It’s likely you’ve experienced quilters block at some point. There are various reasons it happens whether you are stuck on a particular part of the process or the demands of work and family life have sapped your creative energies. Or maybe there is a time of year, a season when you and quilting just don’t mix well. Maybe it’s the pandemic, wildfires filling your sky with smoke, anxiety over politics, the environment, racial unrest, or any other of a myriad of anxiety-inducing things going on in the world at any given moment.
Whatever the reason for an inspirational drought, Elisa Albury outlines ways to reset your creative juices in her article, ‘A Pep Talk.’.
Albury points out that despite being involved in a local quilt guild or taking an occasional quilt class, we are usually stitching on our own. However, connecting with other quilters can be a great source of inspiration.
“It is through social connections that we bond over more things than fabric,” she says “The bouncing back and forth of ideas and aspirations, successes and failures, experiments, and tried-and-true techniques is where the magic happens.” Because of the magic that can be created by connecting with other makers, coming together is invaluable at recharging your batteries.
And yet, forming new personal connections and fostering old ones is increasingly difficult in the midst of Covid19 quarantine, lockdowns, and shuttered businesses. Even in circumstances where we are able to meet in person, social distancing and mask-wearing create additional barriers to connecting with our friends. Connecting during these difficult times takes an added measure of effort and can feel like something less than an in-person connection. Though connecting virtually has its disadvantages, it’s a place to start, and it can be better than nothing.
Recognizing the need during this unprecedented time, many quilt teachers are offering online quilt classes. In addition to providing an opportunity for you to connect with other quilters, taking a virtual class will support teachers that are unable to travel and teach as they normally would to provide for themselves. Some online options create even more personal time to connect with and get feedback from the teacher than you may experience in an in-person classroom setting.
The local chapter of the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild has been meeting in the park while wearing masks and socially distancing to share what they are making with one another, as well as to connect and socialize.
If a local group is unavailable to you, take the initiative to gather friends. You could set up your own virtual quilt group with sewing friends and/or family members. Send fabric or finished quilt blocks to one another as a way to work on a long-distance quilt project together.
When Albury saw the AIDS Memorial Quilt at QuiltCon in 2018 she had an epiphany, “Here’s what I realized-- we all belong here. We are all on a journey with our craft… we all belong here and are part of the current quilting narrative. We are the definition of patchwork.”
Albury suggests that when stuck in a rut, you need to find your roots and remember why you quilt. “Find your people, find yourself, and stitch your heart out.” Though we are currently living in circumstances that make it difficult to be together physically, there are multiple ways in which we can reach out and connect with fellow quilters. The connections we form can and will help us break through the walls that are preventing us from being able to create at our highest potential.
Elisa Albury is a lover of Japanese patchwork, as well as antique quilts and the lessons they teach. Elisa gave herself the gift of quilting over 19 years ago. She is a devout liberated (and slow) quiltmaker and can sometimes be found working out design dilemmas on a running trail. Elisa is on Instagram at @stitchoutsidetheditch.
By Brittany Bowen Burton